| Jun 12, 2008

Feature Article - June 12, 2008

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Feature Article - June 12, 2008 North Frontenac CouncilBy Jeff Green

North Frontenac to explore secession from Frontenac County

Dissatisfaction with Frontenac County is almost a tradition in North Frontenac, and last week it boiled over for Mayor Ron Maguire.

“I was on the losing end of a number of resolutions at the county meeting last week [May 25]”, Maguire told council. “I'm increasingly frustrated with the attitudes of some of my colleagues, the fact that a couple of them openly admit that they don't even read the reports. It makes my blood boil that after spending a lot of time preparing, I get defeated on major things.”

The particular issues that irked Maguire at the May 25 county meeting were a report on planning that he wanted to see rejected out of hand, and an economic development report.

But, as he explained to his council, his feelings about the county have been developing over time.

“This was building while I was warden. I noted that I sensed a growing north/south divide. I told the new warden about that. By the way things have transpired last year I think my warning went unheeded. The latest meeting reinforced some of my feelings. Frontenac County was created out of four larger townships. While it may have been useful at the time, in the ensuing years a lot of problems have arisen and the county has become unworkable. I find it difficult going to county council and being outvoted on every issue that is of concern to the north.”

In particular Maguire talked about a provincially initiated rural broadband project that Frontenac County did not receive funding for (neigbhbouring Lanark County did), and Maguire said the fact that Frontenac “did not attach any financial commitment to its application meant that it was not taken seriously by the province. The upshot is there will be broadband right up to our eastern border, and it will stop there,” he said.

Other flashpoints for Maguire were the county’s refusal to support the Pine Meadow Nursing Home, and the ongoing county debate over supporting the Rural Routes Transportation service, which serves North and Central Frontenac.

All of these factors led Maguire to advocate unilateral action on the part of North Frontenac, and he told council that he had met with senior township staff and Deputy Mayor Beam to discuss the situation.

“As a first step I suggested to staff that we could perhaps do a feasibility study. We could hire a consultant and look at the prospects of going on our own and becoming a single-tier municipality. We could even look to the east and west to see if there is any support there.”

Maguire said he was not willing to proceed with this unless he received unanimous support from his council.

One by one the five other councilors in attendance (Councilor Lonnie Watkins was not at the meeting) expressed complete agreement with the mayor.

Deputy Mayor Beam said “I’ve been attending county meetings with the mayor and I agree with him. When you look at broadband, at the fact that the county ambulance service report that was supposed to be out last year has been delayed; when you look at everything, you see the county is not working for us.”

Councilor Wayne Cole said, “I would echo those comments. I'm on the transportation collaborative that the county set up to look at Rural Routes. I'm the only municipal representative that shows up.”

“I don't think we'll get to first base with the warden that we have now; I don't like him. I will certainly back you, Ron, on everything you try to do here,” said Councilor Bob Olmstead.

“I've been on council for four years and we still haven't made any headway with the county. It seems to me they are empire building. Everything we propose is an issue that gets voted out,” said Councilor Fred Perry. “I think it's time we did something about it.”

Mayor Maguire proposed a motion authorising township staff to set out the terms for a consultant who can complete a feasibility study for the establishment of North Frontenac Township as a stand-alone municipality, outside of Frontenac County.

“I think it is time to go ahead and break the tie with the county if the feasiblity study shows we can do it,” said Councilor Wayne Good.

“We have so much potential in North Frontenac, in our people and our resources. I look at us like Canada, with the haves and the have nots switching places. I can see that very well happening in this part of Ontario. Crown Land tourism could really take off and the other townships could be looking at us with green eyes,” Maguire said. “We've got a resolution on the floor.”

“Did you say resolution or revolution?” asked Councilor Perry.

In a recorded vote, the motion was unanimously adopted.

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